China undoubtedly still has some evil sweatshop factories abusing rural young women.
But Foxconn likely is not one of them. Foxconn, you will remember, is the Taiwanese company that makes the iPhone and other electronics in Chinese factories. Numerous allegations have been made about unsafe working conditions and labor rights violations.
James Fallows went on an impromptu visit to the Chinese operation. He notes:
"Some 220,000 people work there; about a quarter of them live on site; and several thousand new employees are recruited, trained, and brought onto staff each week, because turnover at Foxconn and many of these Chinese manufacturing centers is so high. Foxconn has been controversial over the years because of allegations of sweatshop operation and of militaristic surveillance and discipline, plus a wave of worker suicides in 2010."
While one of the buildings does have suicide nets (see below, just above the blue trucks), Fallows' reporting notes how normal the whole operation seems. People coming and going; the dorms rooms are small and crowded but clean; workers crowd into the electronic café on breaks to surf the web.
Fallows admits this is not an official inspection and more posts will come:
"I am not yet going to characterize what I saw, and I am not pretending to know more than I do. This was a few hours out of one day. But what I saw once inside the gate was very different from the picture that "Foxconn" had always conjured up in my mind."